For the first time in decades, Rome's Colosseum opens its top levels to the public

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
For the first time in decades, Rome's Colosseum opens its top levels to the public
A general view taken from the top of the Colosseum. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Parts of Rome's Colosseum which have never before been open to tourists are now accessible on guided tours, following a major restoration project.


In Ancient Rome, the fourth and fifth levels of the amphitheatre provided 'cheap seats' for the lower classes, as they were so far from the action unfolding in the arena below, but now that they have been restored to their former glory, these floors will offer tourists an incredible view over the Italian capital.

"It is an incredible view of the Colosseum and Rome, which the visitor will remember as one of the most beautiful things he has seen in his life," Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said at a media presentation on Tuesday.

The top floors have not been open to the public in 40 years.

The view over Rome from the top of the amphitheatre. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

From Wednesday, visitors will be able to visit the top part of the Colosseum, at a height of 40 metres, as well as a connecting gallery which has never been open to the public before. This corridor has been particularly well preserved, and tourists will be able to spot traces of six Ancient Roman toilets.

During the month of October, these areas will be included in the ordinary underground guided tours, while from November 1st it will be possible to book a visit only to the top levels.

The price of the visit will be €9 on top of the cost of entrance to the site, and reservation is compulsory. Access to the uppermost floors will only be possible in groups of up to 25 and in the company of a guide, for safety reasons.

The Colosseum is in the midst of a multi-million-euro restoration funded by shoemaker Tod's. Initial phases of the project have included spray-cleaning to get rid of centuries' worth of grime, strengthening of the northern and southern facades, and replacement of metal gates and barriers in the arches at ground level. 

There are also plans for a new visitor centre and the renovation of the underground vaults where wild animals and prisoners destined for public execution were held ahead of their appearances before the Roman crowds.

And renovation of the arena floor could mean the venue will soon be able to host concerts and other events, including possible reenactments of Ancient Roman spectacles.

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